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The Finish Line: World Relays - Why Didn’T Bahamas Assemble A More Competitive Team?

IT’S not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.

By BRENT STUBBS

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

THE WEEK THAT WAS

THE IAAF/BTC World Relays 2015 has come and gone, leaving behind a whole lot of memories for us to digest until the third edition returns to the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium in 2017.

I think everyone in the stadium was able to take something away with them from the two-day competition over the weekend that will linger in their minds as they reflect on what turned out to be another “Bahamazing” experience.

• Here are some of

my observations:

Stadium transformed

The announcement of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt competing for the first time raised the level of attendance and the Local Organising Committee capitalised on it by bringing in the additional bleachers.

Those who sat on the final bend between the 200 and 100 metres have had the best seats in the house because they got to see just about all of the athletes as they made their entrance on the track.

And the spectators got more than they bargained for as they got the opportunity to see exactly how the athletes prepare for their relay exchanges and, at the same time, witnessed some of the encounters the teams faced in their transition.

Americans set the stage

If there was any team that came fully prepared for the competition, it was the United States of America. The American team was stacked from top to bottom and they left nothing to imagine as they brought everybody who is somebody to compete.

There was no wonder why when you looked at the results, the USA emerged as the Golden Baton champions for the second consecutive year. 

They didn’t leave anything to chance, winning seven of the 10 finals and seeing the only two world records in the process in the distance medleys, which replaced the 4 x 1500, which were scrapped this year.

Had it not been for a spill in the women’s 4 x 200, the Americans would have increased their victory total to eight and widened their points differential against arch-rival Jamaica.

No Snap, Crackle,

Pop for Jamaica 

With Bolt making his first appearance in the Bahamas to compete since he did as a junior athlete at the CARIFTA Games, many expected to see another lightning experience for the world’s fastest man.

With his sidekick Yohan Blake nursing an injury and another great Asafa Powell racing back into his old form at a meet in Guadeloupe, Bolt just didn’t have the arsenal to match up with the USA, which featured two former world beaters, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, in the men’s 4 x 100.

However, without Bolt running in the 4 x 200, the Reggae Boyz did manage to seal the show behind Warren Weir. Bolt was taken out of the equation as the team officials indicated that he suffered a slight hamstring and they didn’t want to jeopardise the remainder of his season with an injury.

But what about Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce? A decision was made not to include her on the Jamaican women’s teams because she wasn’t given the opportunity to run in the heat of one of the two relays she was expected to compete in.

One can only speculate what a difference she would have made for the Jamaicans if she had gotten the opportunity to team up with Veronica Campbell-Brown. I guess we will never know.

Lesson learned

for the Bahamas

Can someone tell me why as the host of what everyone, including the visiting dignitaries and athletes, described as the greatest meet they have ever participated in, that the Bahamas could not have assembled a more competitive team.

I think the athletes who competed, both young and old, should be commended because they all performed exceptionally well under the circumstances.

But for starters, the relays served as a qualifier for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, in August and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 for teams in both the 4x 100 and 4 x 400.

Yet, the BAAA allowed the top female athletes on the team to skip the golden opportunity to put country above self by competing in the 4x200 rather than the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 400 on the advice of their personal coaches.

Now the BAAA will have to find the funding to send these teams, along with the men’s 4 x 100, to other meets in order for them to qualify, which doesn’t make any sense. This was their best chance with the competition from the rest of the world right in our backyard.

There was also some who questioned the decisions by the team coaches on the selection of the athletes used for both 4 x 400 relay teams and the order they ran in. They should not be taken off the hook any easier than the personal coaches who didn’t want their athletes to run in certain events.

The Bahamas should take a page out of the script written by the United States, who came here well prepared and seemed to be so unified in their efforts that their performances were as solid as a rock.

Our performances were good for 10th place overall with three appearances in a final and one medal, but I’m sure if we had put our best foot forward, it could have been better.

THE WEEK

AHEAD

Let me be the first to wish all of the mothers in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, especially my mother Berdie Stubbs and my lovely wife Joan, and my mother-in-law Nellie Smith, a happy Mother’s Day. I wish that each and every mother enjoys their special day and that they get the kind of attention and recognition that comes with the occasion.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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